Let me set the scene. You just hired a young new hotshot. This person has had a meteoric career to date, and you spent months recruiting him. He went to Harvard for his undergraduate degree and Stanford for an MBA. Right out of the blocks he has been hitting it out-of-the-park for you. His creativity and innovation are off the charts and he’s a real charmer. Everyone loves him and he is generating one success after another. What a dream situation – right?
There is no doubt that this is a dream situation. However, there’s also danger lurking. Why? Whenever we become enamored with someone, we run the risk of being blind to their shortcomings, and we all have shortcomings. Further we also may not be looking critically for coaching opportunities which shortchanges our new team member. How is it that we smart entrepreneurs fall into this trap? Actually, it is very easy. Perhaps we had a less than satisfactory experience with someone our new hire has replaced. Or we may never have had talent like this in the organization before. It is very refreshing to have a smart person in our midst that can seemingly do no wrong. We never want the honeymoon to end, nor do we want to throw cold water on our new team member, lest we demoralize him or her early in the game.
Over the course of my career I have seen plenty “golden haired boys and girls.” And after a while, the luster wears off a bit. Always. By no means does this indicate that we made a poor hiring decision. Walking in the front door for the first time, seldom is anyone really as good as they may seem – a fact for which we need to be reminded periodically. It is all about setting expectations. On Day One we are well-served to establish an understanding with our new team member whereby we will be providing continuous feedback. This will include both praise as well as constructive coaching. And, we must have a mindset that no matter how wonderful this individual might be, there’s always room to help him or her become better.
Here is how we might create a feedback process that works well for all parties. During the first 90-days we hold a short weekly meeting with our new teammate. We will structure it into four parts. First, we share our positive observations about what this individual has done well during the previous week. If something notable has been accomplished, we celebrate accordingly. Second, we share one or more areas where we would like to see more progress. This does not necessarily mean that we are being critical, but we should not hesitate to offer constructive criticism if warranted. Third, we provide information that may be pertinent for the coming week. Perhaps we want to lay out some new objectives, or maybe there is some company information to be conveyed. Finally, we allow time for our team member to ask questions or offer any observations he or she might have. After 90-days these meetings may be less frequent. The bottom line is that our rising star is conditioned to receiving feedback and we have been able to build a strong relationship from the very beginning.
Maintaining an objective perspective on new team members – especially those who show great promise – will help turn good talent into franchise-quality players. And it helps us remember that we can always be better tomorrow than we were today.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.